Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Recipe: Egg Tomatoni

Time taken: ¾ of an hour

Ingredients: Eggs, cherry tomatoes, Quorn pepperoni slices & mayo

Hi readers,

It’s our last day of 2014! As I write we’re literally on the cusp of a New Year. It’s terrifying! Can you believe it’s been 15 years since we were celebrating the Millenium?? That was 15 years ago! My mind BOGGLES. I strongly recommend just pouring a drink later and trying really hard not to think about the big picture. That’s what I’ll be doing!

And I’ll be pouring a drink… in Newcastle! That’s right… after some stressful travel yesterday I left Sheffield’s snow behind and made it back up north for NYE in The Toon! To celebrate Geordie-style!

Aaaaaand I’m back in the proper ChefBeHere kitchen! Hurray! I’m back to having my own cupboard and using our beat up student kitchenware. And, after some hefty deliveries from Asda and Holland & Barrett, the house is full of food! Whey! In a student house, there is no greater joy.

And I’m back to having my freedom with food! In one way this is because when you’re a student at home, a lot of the time I guess you get looked after and fed up, and generally catered for by mum and dad. For a very brief while you have VIP status in the house and this tends to bring with it, at least in my home, some proper home cooked grub! So you relinquish your freedom over what you eat, and in turn you play no part in the preparation of any meals. It’s lush.

ALSO though, I think everyone has less freedom with food at Christmas. You’re dealing with buffets and restaurants meals throughout the festive season. A cheese board here and there. Some roasted chestnuts. Constant ‘nibbles’. On the big day, obviously, you’re eating a full roast. There’s usually some kind of pudding/fruit cake/gateaux/cheesecake/trifle (maybe all of them) involved. Then you’re eating turkey sandwiches for far too long in the Christmas aftermath. All those chocolates that were under the tree? You’re opening boxes left, right and centre. It’s never ending!

Half the time, I think, there’s a voice in your head that’s like “I JUST WANT AN APPLE… ONE APPLE”. Or, you know, something of the kind. When there’s a constant stream of rich foods and booze on offer it seems silly, but if I could have chosen my food this Christmas I think I’d have picked something much smaller and simpler a lot of the time!  

Now though, on December 31st, we’re pretty much at the end of it all. And there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! Sure, you might have one more buffet to tackle tonight. Maybe the leftovers tomorrow. But then… you can eat ANYTHING. You’ve got your freedom back. And I encourage you not to be boring. You have power: go crazy! Literally, eat any weird shit you like. Throw things together that you never have before! Get ODD with it. Why not? You’re not feeding this food to a crowd of twenty anymore… just you!

So, this lunchtime, I had so many new foods in and I’m so unused to preparing my own food that I didn’t really know what to do with myself in the kitchen. I had the vague notion I should make something healthy. I wanted something warm as it’s frigging ICY here. I had eggs to use up. And so things got odd. But I prepared, readers, a masterpiece!

I call it the Egg Tomatoni. And here’s how to make yours…

1. Heat the oven to 200˚C and boil the kettle.

2. Place 3 eggs in a saucepan, pour your boiling water over them and leave the pan to heat on a hob.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: FOR CHRIST’S SAKE PUT A LID ON THE PAN. Otherwise, you will anger me. Things boil quicker with a lid on and so you need to have the hob on for less time. As a result, you use less energy. Hence, less global warming. Simples.

3. Leave your eggs to boil for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop 6 cherry tomatoes in half. Dance around.

4. After 10 minutes, remove your pan from the heat and drain away the water. With your eggs in a sieve/colander, pour cold water over them to cool them down.

5. Then use your hands to peel away the shells of your eggs. Bin the shells.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: First, tap each egg with a teaspoon in order to create a crack in the shell. Then you can get it off neatly.

6. Chop each of your eggs into quarters and arrange them around the edge of a bowl.

7. Place a cherry tomato-half between each bit of egg.

8. Arrange some Quorn pepperoni slices artistically in the centre of the bowl. I popped an extra cherry tomato in the middle of them, too.

9. Safely transport your bowl into the oven to warm for 20 minutes.

10. After 20 minutes, carefully remove your bowl from the oven and drizzle the contents with some mayo/salad cream/dressing. Serve up your lunch. Bon appétit!

I created this beauty!

Isn’t it odd? So odd! I was thinking this while it cooked. What a weeeeird bowlful of food. But, somehow, good. I liked this! I like eggs; I like tomatoes; I like Quorn. I’ve never had Quorn pepperoni slices before, but basically they just taste like spicy Quorn. Similar to all other Quorn. I’m going to put them on pizza soon. But, also, they worked in this lunch! It was a weird coming together of flavours. But it was a good one. Plus, it looks funky. And it’s not altogether unhealthy. Win!

So, to edit this recipe… I think the eggs are fundamental. But you could switch the tomatoes for maybe… olives? Button mushrooms? Little squares of pepper? And your Quorn pepperoni slices; they could be subbed with… any other kind of Quorn? (It all tastes the same!) Some halloumi cheese? A very mini quiche? Literally, anything that springs to mind that doesn’t sound undeniably awful.

And there you have it! Fancy a rather odd lunch? Definitely give this one a try. It’s up there with the oddest. And let me know what you think! Did you enjoy this? Would you ever eat it again? Fill me in! And I want to hear any suggestions you may have for equally odd meals I could try. I’m embracing all mealtime oddities this January. And I hope you do, too.

This will be us

On that note… all the best for 2015, amigos!

Party safely,


Sunday, 28 December 2014


Hi lovely readers,

Oh how I’ve missed you all!

So this is my first post in a few days, as it’s (obviously) been Christmas. It’s been a lovely Christmas! I’ve had a wonderful last few days. Christmas for me has been spent chilling at home with family, and then venturing out to meet up with friends. Eating lots of FOOD. Trying to walk off the food. Spending my Christmas money. Watching too many films. Ignoring all my uni work. You know.
How about you?? Has your Christmas been a good one? The best yet? Did it go how you’d expected? And did people like the gifts you’d bought?
I think the gifts I gave were well received (at least I hope they were!). Matching onesies for my dad and brother were the best shout I ever made. Here where I live, though, no one could have predicted the amount of snow we would get. Like a foot of it? We’ve been blanketed! As a result, I know Boxing Day ended with epic journeys for many people when the snow meant nobody could drive. There was many a Sheffielder attempting a mammoth cross-city trek by foot on Boxing Day. And we’ve all been skidding about throwing snowballs ever since! I think that’s how this Christmas will be remembered here. How do you think you’ll remember this Christmas?
Sadly, readers, I must report that I haven’t been much of a chef in the kitchen this week! I’ve been awful and have no new recipes to write about, sorry. And I am sorry! I promise tons of new recipes for you in the New Year. PROMISE.
It’s because of the New Year that I’ve chosen to write to you today. This post is a break from my usual recipe-based posts, and it doesn’t really relate to food. I just missed writing to you! I’ve been thinking a lot today, readers, about the New Year. There’s only 3 days to go now until it’s 2015. This is somewhat horrifying. VERY horrifying. And yesterday I turned 20 and a half. Cause for panic.
But, in fact, I’m getting excited for the New Year. I’ve decided I’m having a fresh start! A lot of people do this at this time each year, I know, and it’s SUCH A CLICHÉ! But do I care? Hell no. I’ve thought up some new life goals that I’m excited to be taking up in the New Year, and I’m sharing them with you here.
So, I’m calling these goals my Good Intentions. As I don’t like to use the term 'Resolutions.' To me, I guess, being resolute sounds very set-jawed. Pretty much no fun. Instead, I’m hoping to ENJOY having a crack at these goals. To karate chop my way towards success Po/Jack Black-style. Like a Kung Fu Panda yeah (far too many films in one week). And to just intend to achieve my Intentions. See if I do. And to keep choosing to stick to them! Rather than powering on by default because I’m ‘resolute’.
Here are my big bad, all-star Good Intentions for 2015:
1. To get fit. I’m not kidding, I used to run. And possessed muscles. I love running! For me, there’s no better way to channel energy than pounding it into a pavement. And you feel ace about yourself by the end. But I got running trainers for my birthday this summer and I’ve barely put them on! It’s terrible! Well, no more. I’m running off my cobwebs in the New Year. This time in a month? I’m going to be a lean, mean running machine! And then keep it up.
Here’s me and my Father Bear running for Sports Relief so many moons ago
2. To commit to my yoga. No half arsed weekly salutations. No not-quite-reaching-my-toes. I’m going to roll my mat out every day, even if it’s just to lie with my legs up a wall. I’m going to get my headstand back. Work on strengthening my back. Let go of stress.
My favourite Instagram account is yoga_girl
(Rachel inspires me every day)
3. To eat as if my body were a temple. Or a plant I were trying to grow. Or as if I were pregnant and deliberately not feeding shit to my unborn baby (I’m not). I’m going to eat all the right things and hopefully feel really good for it! I’m going to be eating green and clean. Without eating small or obsessive. Cue loads of superstar health recipes for you to read about!
This was my lunch at Pizza Express yesterday and it was a dream
4. To complete my degree as a sane, whole person. And pass it, preferably. No meltdowns or panic attacks or quitting. No falling out with my friends or my family. Less grinding my teeth in my sleep. I’m going to take it one day at a time. And try to find some enjoyment in each day. And get through it. And graduate!
I hope they draw rainbows on us again in the library
5. To travel. Once I graduate and attend my cousin’s wedding, I’m out of here! To visit as many warm and incredible faraway places as I can possibly afford. Live my dream and leave the UK behind!
My new tattoo on my foot reminds me of what is to come
And there you have it! Those are my Good Intentions for 2015. Only the next year will tell how I do with them. I’m feeling very determined. And wishing myself luck. The mood is positive and hopeful.
Have you thought about maybe setting yourself some Good Intentions for the New Year? I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But Intentions don’t have to be written down like mine. They needn’t be official or upheld. They’re just a whim. Maybe you want something from 2015 that’s been missing from 2014? Or you want to keep something good going that you’ve already started? Or there’s a new path you’re going to take? Intend to make it happen.
And on January the 1st it’s going to be like BOOM. There’s going to be SWARMS of runners. And I’m going to be one of them! Riding the wave of fresh starts! Will you be there?

I hope this is food for thought for you, readers! Wishing you health and happiness in the New Year. So, I’m not really one for quotes. I think a lot of them don’t make sense. Or they’re misunderstood. Or they’re just bullshit. But I’m going to leave you with a few inspiring quotes, which I intend to tape to my wall in the New Year. They’re the wisdom behind my Good Intentions. And I’ll see you in 2015!
Drink safely this NYE,

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
“Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle.” – Namaste_25 (Instagram account)

“When I reach the age of Twenty
I will explore this world of plenty
In a motorized bird myself I will sit
And soar into space oh! so brightly lit
I will float, I will fly to the world so lovely, so far
I will float, I will fly above rivers and sea
The cloud is my sister, the wind a brother to me.”
Avraham (Abramek) Koplowicz, b. 1930.

Avraham was a young man held in the Łódź ghetto in Poland during World War II. He was taken from this ghetto on the final transport to make the journey to Auschwirz-Birkenau in 1944 and there he was killed at age fourteen. I found his words in a Jodi Picoult novel.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Santa-standard baking!

Recipe: Festive mince pies & apricot bakewell tarts!

Time taken: About an hour

Ingredients: A jar of mincemeat, a jar of apricot jam, 400g plain flour, 320g butter, 180g caster sugar, 3 eggs, 40g ground almonds

Hi readers,

This is when all the good stuff kicks off! It’s almost Christmasssssssss! Suddenly, we’re not saving all the food and drink anymore… we can freely hammer the kitchen and get bloody hammered!

I’m a little festive today. Literally, brimming with Christmas cheer! I’m perhaps on par, festive spirit-wise, with Buddy in Elf. And I’ve drunk a LOT of coffee. Plus, we went on a family outing this morning to see the new Hobbit film at the cinema… and it’s immense! Literally, it’s over two hours long and a good 50% of that time is made up of proper Middle Earth battle action!

Men with swords + elves with arrows + dwarves with axes = Orc massacre!! It’s a big blockbuster and definitely well matched to my excitement levels today. We even went 3D!  If you can make it to the cinema to see one more film this year: I thoroughly recommend the Hobbit.

Now I’m home and I’ve launched the Christmas playlist oncemore. You have to, really. Garland, Crosby, Rea… all the Christmas classics have been blasting this Christmas Eve. And me and the Mother Bear having been baking up a festive storm in the kitchen! We’ve been baking mince pies and apricot bakewell tarts (apricot as this is the only flavour of jam that my Mother Bear approves of) to feed to the men over Christmas! And OF COURSE they’re for us too. In fact, did we save the guys many? Any? Hmm…

Sooooo, I’m sharing the magic with you! To bake up your very own mince pies and bakewell tarts (fit for Father Christmas to taste tonight when he’s doing his rounds!) here’s what you do…

1. Heat your oven to 200˚C. Grease a 12-hole bun tin with a little butter. Crack open your Baileys!

2. Measure 375g flour and 260g butter into a large mixing bowl, and rub together with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add 125g of sugar and 1 egg, and stir it up!

4. When it all starts to come together, use your hands to work the dough into a ball and then tip it out onto a lightly floured surface.

5. Roll the pastry out until it’s a few millimetres thick and then use a large round cutter (or, if you can't find it, a pint glass) to cut out 12 large pastry circles. Press these into each slot of your bun tin.

6. Next, fill 6 of these pastry cases with a teaspoon of mincemeat in each. Use a small round cutter to cut out 6 small circles from your remaining pastry. Pop these over your mincemeat-filled cases, and use your fingertips to press the lids down at the edges, so no mincemeat can bubble out when they are in the oven.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: I take a sharp knife now and score a couple of lines in the top of each lid. I think this is done so that some of the heat can get out of them in the oven. (???) It’s just a tradition, really.

7. Crack an egg into a mug and use a fork to beat it up into a yolky mix. Take a pastry brush and dip it into this mix, then brush over the top of your 6 mince pies. This is to glaze them and make them turn golden when they bake.

8. Clean your mixing bowl and measure into it: 55g butter, 55g sugar, 40g ground almonds and a tablespoon of flour. Crack an egg into the bowl and stir it all up! This is the frangipane mix for your bakewells.

9. Spread a little apricot jam in the bottom of your 6 empty pastry cases then  spoon frangipane over the top of this until the case is full. If you have any pastry left you might want to arrange it over the top in strips or festive shapes (like Christmas trees or holly leaves). Or you can sprinkle flaked almonds over the top, if you have any to hand. Or just leave them as they are.

10. Safely transport into the oven to bake for about 20 minutes. They should all turn golden on top and your bakewells might rise (although ours didn't much) and then they’re ready to come out! Leave your lovely pastries on the side to cool in their tin for half an hour, then transfer onto a plate. Dust with icing sugar (so they look like they’ve been out in the snow) and serve them up!

ChefBeHere Top Tip: Remember to save Father Christmas the bestest, biggest mince pie for when he visits tonight. This is of vital importance.
And here’s me and the Mother Bear’s baking while cooling

I’m quite proud of us, really! I’m literally shaking today with caffeine and Christmas excitement and my mum’s had a loooot of jobs she’s been working through this morning (really, it’s mad, she’s driven her Mr into work, been out Christmas food shopping, cleaned the house from top to bottom, worn the dog out on a big walk, given the bird’s cage a festive spruce, welcomed next door’s new born baby to the world… she’s a woman on a mission this Christmas Eve!) but we both got it together for some solid mother-daughter baking time today.
Fast forward a couple of decades... and we're still larking around together!

And, god, we did a good job! Our pastries taste like THE BOMB. Unbelievably, eating one of these mince pies just now, I realised it’s only my second one of the whole Christmas! And the first one was sadly shop bought (and eaten in sub-zero temperatures in an outdoor marquee following the CU Carol Service at uni… I could barely feel my lips at the time) so this was a far merrier mince pie experience! They taste incredible! Just pure butter and stodge and Christmas spirit. I love it!

So PLEASE go warm their hearts and treat your family. Bake them up a batch of Christmassy pies and tarts to munch over the next few days. They will love you more when you do. And OBVIOUSLY you can’t be leaving any shop bought fodder out for Father Christmas later! He’s going to be so busy tonight he needs the real deal! A proper homemade mince pie, please!

Readers, I wish you the best of luck in the kitchen baking up a storm. And here’s wishing you a very merry Christmas Day tomorrow! Have a warm, wonderful time with your family.

Take care this Christmas,